My father died of Alzheimer’s disease so I have a particular interest in this subject. 

Alzheimer’s is the fastest growing health threat in the United States, according to researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle.  

The disease is incurable, but some research has shown that diet and exercise can reduce the odds of a person developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“A growing number of epidemiological studies indicate that there is a strong relationship between nutrition and Alzheimer’s Disease,” researcher M.C. Morris writes in the European Journal of Neurology

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has called these findings linking food and dementia “groundbreaking.”

What are some risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s?

Saturated Fats

These fats are found in meats, dairy products and eggs.  They appear to encourage the formation of beta-amyloid plaques within the brain.  The Chicago Health and Aging Study reported that people consuming the most saturated fat had more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are found in doughnuts, bakery cookies, cupcakes, muffins, croissants and other snack pastries.  They have been shown to increase Alzheimer’s risk more than fivefold.

Excess Iron

Excess iron can build up in the brain causing the production of free radicals.  Using cast-iron cookware, eating meats and taking iron supplements all contribute to excess iron in the body.
Excess Copper

Excess copper impairs cognition.  It comes from copper pipes and nutritional supplements.


Because aluminum has been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, avoid uncoated aluminum cookware and read the labels before buying baking powder, antacids and processed foods to see if aluminum is listed in the ingredients.

What can you do to help protect yourself and your family from Alzheimer's?

Eat Nuts and Seeds

Some studies are looking into Vitamin E’s role in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Foods containing vitamin E include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, avocados and olives.  Because these foods are high in fat, a small handful on a daily basis should be ample.

Eat Green Leafy Vegetables

Green vegetables are loaded with folate, an important brain-protecting B-vitamin.  Greens also provide iron in a form that the body can use without causing iron buildup.  Eat plenty of broccoli, parsley, Swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach, kale and turnip greens on a daily basis.

Eat Blueberries and Grapes

These deep colored fruits are powerful antioxidants shown to improve learning.

Eat Sweet Potatoes

Okinawans are the longest-lived people on Earth and sweet potatoes are the main staple of their diets.  Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, another powerful antioxidant.

Eat Beans and Chickpeas

Beans are full of vitamin B6, folate, protein and calcium.

Take a Vitamin B12 Supplement

If you no longer eat meat, take a 500 microgram vitamin B12 supplement once a week.  This vitamin is essential for healthy nerves and brain cells.  One study has shown that a deficiency in vitamin B12 and folate can double the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

For menu ideas and recipes purchase a vegan cook-book, such as Coco’s Healthy Cooking and find recipes which fit the above criteria.

Sign up to receive new blog posts directly to your inbox.  Just fill in your name and e-mail address and hit the “Sign Up” button in the green box to your right.  You will then get an e-mail asking you to confirm your e-mail address.  Once you do that, you will be signed up to receive new blog posts.

© 2013 Melinda Coker

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Melinda Coker, health coach and author of the book, Diet and Cancer: Is There a Connection?, teaches women around the world how to develop a healthy lifestyle.”